Worse Than You Think

 There is talk of another round of lockdowns for the Omicron variant and the winter weather, since Covid does seem to be seasonal, so it seems reasonable to give them an evaluation so far.  There have been a lot of other, more informed people than me talking about whether lockdowns have been effective (my understanding of the peer reviewed literature is that they have not been shown to have statistically significant positive effects), but not much talk about the costs.

That seems weird to me, haven’t people been talking more about the overdose deaths, destruction of the economy, and so on coming from the lockdowns?  How Australia is having the military round up people and put them in camps and many countries having lockdowns of only the unvaccinated?  How peoples’ bodily autonomy is being violated, and they are being stripped of their livelihoods?

Sure they have.  I do really appreciate that.  But what about the number of deaths in the third world from this?  A number that in any other circumstance would be rightly called a genocide, but is hard to notice because it is buried in statistics.

How many people in the third world will die from the lockdowns?  It is hard to be sure, since there are disagreements over the number of deaths from poverty, but it is in the millions.  Every year, roughly 500,000 people die from tainted water.  1,500,000 die from indoor air pollution.  300,000 – 9,000,000 die from hunger.  These 2.3 to 11 million deaths a year are due to poverty and are entirely preventable.  These deaths are mostly youth children. 

What does this have to do with the lockdowns?  The lockdowns have pushed roughly 100 million people back into absolute poverty, increasing the number of people below that line by 17%.  Many others have been made poorer or had dropping standards of living due to the lockdowns.  Take all of those deaths above, take 17% of that, and realize those hundreds of thousands or millions of deaths will keep happening every year since people in absolute poverty are often trapped there.

India has had more deaths from lockdown induced starvation than Covid.  The projected 400,000 children that will die this year in Yemen is a combination of Covid lockdowns and the US/Saudi alliance bombing their farms and water systems.  There is a 6 times increase in famine-like conditions in the world.  Remember, the US is the world’s largest food exporter, and our shelves are sometimes empty.  How much worse is it for the countries that rely on us?

Did it have to be this way?  No.  People were warning us in the beginning, and throughout, that lockdowns would lead to the deaths of millions of the poorest in the world and they were ignored.  If you were against lockdowns you didn’t have an argument, you just wanted haircuts, remember?  Malawi is a good example of this, since their people protested and fought.  They stopped the lockdowns entirely, and they have had some of the world’s lowest Covid deaths and infections ever since: https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/countries-and-territories/malawi/.

Why does this all matter?  Because politicians are pushing for lockdowns again, and this will lead to far more deaths than Covid can ever inflict.  The politicians and pundits who pushed for this intentionally ignored the economist and humanitarians, and they should be stopped and treated like the blood soaked monsters that they are.  

Drake Lundstrom, FCLP Co-Chair

A History Of “You have to do this to protect someone else”: Part 2

A reader wrote this in response to last month’s Opinion Piece:

Mr. Lundstrom makes a few good points in his essay, but I wonder how many of us may never have been here if mandatory polio and tuberculosis vaccines had not been received by our parents.  I would bet that, if choice were left to individuals, those diseases would still be a worldwide scourge.  We still cannot get rid of polio and TB entirely, only because some pockets of the world population are not vaccinated.It’s long been a Libertarian principle that one’s freedom extends only to the point that it endangers others.  Sure, I object to the government being involved in personal health matters, but too many people are allowing their stubbornness to make them idiots.
In lieu of a regular Opinion Piece I am printing Mr Lundstrom’s response:
 I share your positive feelings about the Polio and Tuberculosis vaccine.  I have been a member of Rotary for a couple of years now, and volunteered with them as a student even longer, and am proud of the thousands of dollars that I have raised and donated to making the Polio vaccine more available in the few remaining countries.  Though, unfortunately, it is politics, governments, and wars preventing the last few regions from getting vaccinated. With that said, the polio and tuberculosis vaccines were never mandatory.  It is also not the case that the tuberculosis vaccine prevents spread.  Even if everyone had the vaccine for it, it would not stop the disease: https://www.who.int/teams/health-product-policy-and-standards/standards-and-specifications/vaccines-quality/bcg With regard to our liberties stopping when it endangers others, that is true.  However, the burden of proof is on the side who is trying to limit freedoms, and they have not met that burden.  The current Covid 19 vaccines appear to have mixed effects on the spread of the disease, especially after a few months pass and as new strains appear among countries like India that are not scheduled to be fully vaccinated before 2024.  On top of that, countries that have been heavily vaccinated (such as Israel or Switzerland) how now seen large spikes in the disease.  That is not to say that the vaccine is not effective at protecting individuals from harm, but if the claim is that getting vaccinated protects others, there is much less evidence to support that, and you need to meet a high standard of proof to violate someone’s bodily autonomy. Beyond that, if the goal was to increase vaccination rates, I think that the answer would be pretty clear, and would be the same pathway walked by the polio vaccine before: tell the truth, address arguments openly, and actually follow the science.  This whole pandemic has been a case study in officials lying to the public, and many of those lies have latter been admitted.  On top of that, experts with legitimate questions and arguments have been suppressed by the media and social media.  It is reasonable for people to doubt what the government is saying when they refuse to answer experts in vaccinology asking why people who have already been infected with Covid have to get vaccinated anyways (especially since many countries with a vaccine mandate actually do have that exception) https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21ADfHk3IuaBrEH34&cid=914431B73799994E&id=914431B73799994E%2176735&parId=914431B73799994E%2173522&o=OneUp Finally, I don’t think that our philosophy is perfect or will bring about a utopia.  We can only act within our limited knowledge of the world.  But what I can say with high confidence at this point is that the lock downs have brought about more avoidable deaths from poverty (starvation, cholera, indoor air pollution, etc.) than Covid would kill even if it infected the whole world.  Yet, when that was going on, discussion was repressed and a policy was mandated.  I don’t know for sure what the best thing for us to do going forward is, but given the track record, I am very heavily leaning towards informing people and helping them rather than mandating and forcing them. My original piece was about the track record of mandated government interventions, and given that the polio and BCG vaccines were not mandated, I still do not know of an example in the last 100 or so years of US history where people were mandated to do something and there was a positive result.  

Drake LundstromFCLPO Vice-Chair

A History Of “You have to do this to protect someone else”:

The national government is mandating vaccination with the justification, paraphrased: “you have to take this to protect someone else”. This is an argument that governments have used time and time again, and it’s worth seeing how it has been abused in the past. Just the US over the last century or so has had many instances of this abuse of power. 

Eugenics: The same Supreme Court case that allowed for mandated vaccinations also allowed for forcibly sterilizing people who were criminals or simply not smart enough. The famous quote from it is “three generations of idiots is enough”, and the justification was that stupid or criminal people would have children that damaged others or cost them money to take care of. I don’t think that I need to explain just how morally horrific this is, especially since this was still happening recently (for example: 148 female inmates were sterilized in California between 2006 and 2010). 

WW1: The phrase “shouting fire in a crowded theater” originated from a different terrifying Supreme Court case against anti-war protestors. The idea was if you spoke out against the war, you were putting others “in danger”, and the government would arrest you. You have to shut up to protect someone else. 

Prohibition: Alcohol was banned in large part because people drinking put others in danger. The result of this was the creation of organized crime in the US, the highest murder rate in US history, and a large number of overdose deaths from black market, unsafe alcohol. 

War on drugs: The main argument that created the war on drugs was using marijuana or other drugs made someone a danger to others. The movie Reefer Madness is a good time capsule of the arguments made at the time, but overall the war on drugs was not started to protect people from drugs. It was to stop you from taking drugs to protect everyone else. This has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions being locked up, the overdose epidemic, and an ever-growing international system of dangerous cartels. 

9/11: The Patriot Act was pre-written before the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon.  The Act was voted on and signed into law before the end of the following month.  It authorized indefinite detention of immigrants without trial.  It permitted law enforcement to search property and records without a warrant, consent, or knowledge.  It contained numerous provisions that cancelled previously respected freedom and privacy of financial transactions.  It opened the door for mass surveillance of U.S. Citizens. The travel restrictions imposed and enforced by the TSA were forerunners to the government travel restrictions we’re facing today.  We even saw the phenomenon culturally. The US considered kidnapping and assassinating Julian Assange.  Both Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for Edward Snowden’s return and trial, with execution for treason on the table.  “If you are not with us, you are with the terrorists!” If you argued against the deadly regime change wars the US has been in for the last 20 years, you are putting everyone else in danger. 

Gay marriage: One of the big arguments against gay marriage was that it would hurt “society” or “the children”. People were not allowed to marry who they liked because even just viewing it or knowing about it would “harm” others. Similar arguments are still being made about other groups in the LGBTQ+ community. 

2020 lockdowns: We now know, based on many studies on the subject (that we would be happy to send to you if asked), that the lockdowns did little to nothing to prevent the spread and

danger of Covid. Countries like Sweden, with no lockdown, did about the same as the rest. Even worse, lockdowns caused tens or hundreds of thousands of children starving to death in the third world, over 100,000,000 people forced into absolute poverty, not even to mention the mental harm, restriction of freedom, and delay of medical procedures in richer countries. 

But this time, in 2021, we should trust them unconditionally? That is not to say that vaccines in general, or the Covid vaccines are not safe and effective. What I’m saying is we should be allowed to have the discussion, learn, and decide for ourselves. Everyone is in a different situation medically and you own your own body. No one should be able to force you to put something in your body that you don’t want to put in it. Make no mistake: if the government takes someone poor and makes it illegal for them to buy food anywhere within an hour of their house, they are forcing them. 

This argument has had a pretty terrible track record and that is worth knowing.

Drake Lundstrrom, Vice-Chair, FCLPO

How You Can Change The Law

 It seems like everything and everyone has gotten more political over the past year.  Families and friends engaging in regular screaming matches about Washington.  But the funny thing about that?  You, me, and anyone you know personally (with rare exceptions) have almost no influence in what happens in Washington, and we are mostly ignoring the area where we do have lots of influence: our local governments. 

The vast majority of people can’t name their mayor, much less their town council members.  Even less than that have ever been inside city hall, or their equivalent, and even less have been there for an actual session.  What does that mean?  That since under 5 people show up to a regular city council meeting (and I am talking about cities smaller than 100,000 people, not Columbus), you can have a big influence if you do show up.

Most city council members just run on a few big issues and aren’t super partisan on the rest, and are open to good ideas, and as libertarians, we have lots of those.  If you want to get a law changed, all you need to do is show up to a few meetings, find an area where you and the city council largely agree, and propose some sample legislation.  We even have it already written for you, whatever you want to do:

Decriminalize marijuana. 

End no knock raids.

Reduce restrictions on gun rights.

And much more .

So yes, I am saying that if you want to change laws, become a lobbyist.  But don’t do it for a corporation, do it for freedom and the rights of everyone.  This is far easier than getting elected, and unlike arguing around the thanksgiving table, this will let you change and contribute to your home.
Drake Lundstrom, FCLP Vice-Chair

Papers Please?

The Vaccine passports are an Orwellian nightmare descending on America with the support of the same politicians and spokespeople who have lied to us hundreds of times before.  And the worst part?  Unlike the 2 weeks to flatten the curve that is still ongoing, or the corporate bailouts with under 10% of the money spent on relief checks, this policy would stay forever.

America has a long history of this.  The TSA was supposed to only exist for a few years, the federal income tax was sold as only a 3% tax on the richest of Americans.  The NSA would only be used to spy on foreign terrorists.  Every government program grows in scope to keep itself alive and this will be no different.  The early vaccine passport demos are not just a verification that you got the shots, but track and store data on you.  Your health, where you go, who you interact with.  If this gets passed, why not add more vaccines?  If we already have the data, shouldn’t the police be able to access it to see who was near a crime?  This will only get worse.

These Fascistic controls should be opposed by everyone: Libertarian, Democrat, Republican, or whatever else.  Beyond this being a cheap rip off of the Chinese social credit system, you should not be punished for being healthy.  You would be detained everywhere you go, guilty until proven innocent, unless you have your smartphone on you (because the only thing Americans need right now is more screen time).  

The left should oppose this because minorities and the disenfranchised will be the most targeted by these policies.  Beyond the cops having a new reason to pull anyone over, the poor would be less likely to have a smartphone.  Survey data also shows us that African Americans are some of the least likely to take the vaccine, just Google the Tuskegee Experiment, and will be the ones segregated by this (again).  And whatever happened to my body, my choice?

In spite of DeWine probably pushing for more horrific government tracking, any right winger with principles should oppose this.  Where in the Constitution does it grant the government the power to partner with unaccountable corporations to monitor and control everything that you do?  I thought that big government was the enemy?  How will you feel when cops are stopping you from walking into your church because you didn’t bring your smartphone with you?

This must be opposed by a broad coalition, but the good news is that it is a largely unpopular policy outside of the ruling elite.  This is one of the battles we can actually win.

Talk to your friends and family.  Call Congresspeople.  Don’t shut up and just let this happen, do what you can to oppose it. The Libertarian party will have your back, and we will be doing everything we can to stop this new tyranny.

Drake Lundstrom, Vice-Chair, FCLP

Liberty and the Opioid Crisis

Elections are fast approaching, and every major party candidate has a plank about the opioid crisis.  With over 4,000 dead of overdose in 2016 alone (over double the number of overdose deaths in 2012, and almost 4 times greater than the number of traffic deaths in 2016), it is an urgent issue that needs to be resolved.  However, Ohio’s current solution isn’t working.  In spite of Ohio “investing about $1 billion each year to help communities battle the scourge of drug abuse and addiction at the local level” (August 30, 2017 ODH News Release), deaths from opioids have skyrocketed.  In spite of increased police funding, resources to bust drug dealers, drug use education, and state sponsored rehabilitation programs, we saw an increase of 1000 overdose deaths in 2016.  A $170 million increase in funding for results so bad that calling them disastrous would be a compliment.

Both major party candidates don’t just have it as the first issue on their campaign websites, but offer nearly identical “solutions” to the crisis.  I would never have guessed that declaring an emergency makes things better, but I am fairly sure that we have been hearing DARE’s drug education since elementary school. I guess all we need is more cops to fix the issue.  Let’s be very clear here: this is more of the same policies that have been used as the crisis has gotten worse. This is forcing people away from prescription drugs and onto the even more dangerous fentanyl.  It is time for a wakeup call, the status quo is not working.

Rather than continuing to double down on the war on drugs that Ohio has decisively lost, we can go out around the world and pick policies with a proven track record to bring back home.  Here are a couple suggestions of the most successful policies for decreasing opioid overdoses.  And rather than costing billions, they actually save the taxpayers money.

Legalize marijuana:
How is this related?  It is well established that states which have legalized marijuana have seen an over 25% reduction in opioid deaths on average relative to similar states that didn’t.  Beyond being a less harmful and addictive pain medication for chronic problems treated with opioids, marijuana is widely known as one of the best cures of withdrawal symptoms.   There are obviously a lot of other reasons to legalize, but this one applies directly to the issue at hand.

Decriminalize all drugs:
This is a much more radical proposal but one with strong evidence, especially in the case of Portugal.  In the 90s, Portugal had over 1% of its population addicted to heroin.   In 2001, they had one of the highest overdose rates in the world, at nearly 80 people per million dying of opioid overdose.  But that year, they decriminalized the use of all drugs and have seen a dramatic change for the better.  As of 2016, there have only been 6 overdose deaths per million, well below the average in Europe (17.3), and far below the 185 overdose deaths per million in the US.  Their 90% improvement is one we can follow.  This policy also frees up law enforcement and courts to focus on real crimes, rather than what consenting adults are putting in their bodies.

While those two solutions will not end all overdoses, and I fear nothing ever will, they have a far better track record than any solution being touted out by major party candidates.  And that is in Ohio, where 1/6 people already use marijuana, the majority supports marijuana legalization, but establishment politicians still will not oven vote about legalizing marijuana or implement the medical licenses that have been promised for years.  But libertarians are the one who are pushing for the solutions that put power back in the hands of the individual.  We favor policies that don’t empty your wallet, and that actually work.